Wonder Woman. She-Hulk. Batgirl. These are just a few of the fierce women superheroes that I used to dream of becoming as a little girl. They were heroic, gutsy, and strong. They were fearless and brave. They embodied all of the characteristics that the introverted, fearful little girl in me was not.
Not only was I timid and awkward, I lived in fear much of the time. My thoughts were consumed with fear of what others would think, fear that I wouldn’t measure up, or fear of what the future might bring. While living in a posture of fear was not always easy, it was usually safe and comfortable. I would often choose not to take a risk because I feared what the outcome would be.
Then I encountered Christ.
I began to see that the problem with fear-based living is that “…God has not given us a Spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). As I grew more dependent on Christ and more sensitive to the promptings of His Spirit within me, I began to feel more and more that He was asking me to do things that I was not comfortable with. I often felt prompted to take risks. The question was: would I be willing and brave enough to take them?
The word risk might conjure up images of moving to a third-world country or even camping out Mother Teresa-style at our local homeless shelter. And those types of risks are worthy endeavors. But I am not Mother Teresa, so the types of risks God started asking me to take included much more ordinary things such as talking to my co-worker about Christ or being vulnerable in sharing my struggles.
Being brave is not often made up of grand, superhero-type displays. Sometimes being brave is simply being willing to give a ride across the city even if it’s an inconvenient. That is what being brave was for me on this particular day. For two weeks I passed the same woman standing at a public bus stop on the way home from dropping my kids off at school. For two weeks I noticed her waiting for the bus, rain or shine, and I felt a nudge in my heart that I was to stop and offer her a ride. For two weeks, I talked myself out of stopping.
I didn’t know her at all and I was fearful. I must be nuts, I thought. Is God really asking me to do this? I could think of ten different reasons not to stop. Primarily, my little girl was in the backseat and people can be crazy and dangerous. But every school day for two weeks I would pass her and I felt a Spirit-nudge to pick her up.
I finally surrendered and hesitantly said, “Okay, God, I’ll stop!” Although I was doubting myself and my ability to discern God’s guidance, I pulled up anyway and offered her a ride. She seemed surprised but she hopped in. We talked on the way to her destination and she explained that she was on her way to the community center to study for the GED. She was only 7 points away from passing the test. What an honor that God might use me and my privilege to help provide her free transportation as she worked toward this accomplishment. I continued to give her rides the days when I saw her at the bus stop and I looked forward to our short chats on the way to the center. I enjoyed our chats so much that I began to forget I was driving her to a dangerous part of town. I will never forget the day this woman shared her son’s name with me. It was in that moment, the moment she told me that his name was Messiah King, that I knew with all my heart God had indeed nudged me to stop and pick her up. But this wasn’t about me or even her. This was clearly about God. This was about His mission and His story and His purpose. I was just thankful that I was brave enough to be a part of it that day.
What I learned from Messiah King’s mother is that being brave doesn’t mean that I will be fearless. Sometimes being brave simply means that I will choose to act in faith anyway. I will choose to respond to the voice of the Spirit within me and not the voice of fear. I can act with bravery not because I have no fear or because I am guaranteed a safe and good outcome, but I can act with bravery because the Holy Spirit of bravery and power lives in me.
This post was written by one of our Radiant Writers: Gina Fimbel.
I remember packing my suitcase and wondering if I had lost my mind. I wondered if I had really heard God correctly. Months before, I was confident that my next step was to go on a short term mission trip to Ethiopia, but when the week of departure arrived I wondered if I had made a mistake. I wondered because I was afraid. I had never been on a mission trip, nor traveled to another country where I didn’t speak their language. I was nervous.
I was excited and drawn to the trip because it was a group of women going to serve women. But as I was packing my suitcase that night, I began to second guess myself and my decision. I began to wonder if I had heard God correctly. I began to be afraid and started thinking, “What if I get sick? What if I get there and I am of no help? What if this doesn’t go well? What if I get hurt? What if I get lost? What if they ask me something and I don’t have an answer?” And the list goes on.
It was in those questions of “what ifs” that I had to come face to face with my trust and faith in the Lord. It is in that trust that I found my courage.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I knew that I needed to put my trust in the Lord and not the “what ifs” of my fearful mind. I was assured by the passage above that even with all of my fears God would be with me, just as He was with Joshua. That if I was in the midst of talking to someone and didn’t have answers, He would be there. If I got sick, He would be there. If I got hurt, He would be there. Whatever my “what ifs” were, God would be there. He would never leave me nor forsake me.
I finished packing my suitcase, and I continued on my journey to Ethiopia. To this day, precious memories fill my mind from that trip. Memories of conversations about God and his faithfulness over popcorn and coffee (one of their favorite combos). Memories of meeting women who at one time had no hope, lived day to day in fear of how they would make ends meet, and who felt unloved and unworthy. Memories of those same women finding the Lord. Although separated by miles, different cultures, and different languages, we found that our hearts were similar. We rejoiced that through Christ our Savior we were not strangers in a foreign land, but sisters sharing brave stories of God and His faithfulness.
I am so grateful I made that trip. I grew closer to the team of women I journeyed with and met amazing new women as well. I learned that no matter where we live, we women are basically the same. We have areas where our struggles look different, but our heart issues are the same. We all fear. We all desire to be loved. We all want to know that we matter.
I was brave enough to exchange my “what ifs” for “what for”; that is, for the opportunity to follow and trust the God I love.
This post was written by one of our Radiant Writers: Lisa Stikeleather.
Radiant is less than TWO WEEKS AWAY!!!
But wait… what is Radiant??
Radiant is an event for women of any age and any stage of life to come together for a girls’ night out!
This year’s Radiant topic is one that can probably hit home for anyone… what to do with the “what if” questions that stop us from taking steps of faith toward those things we love; the things that make us come alive. We want to figure out what it looks like to be brave and combat fears. We want to take steps of faith toward our interests, ideas, and gifts with a higher purpose in mind. Instead of “what if”, we want to start asking, “What for?”
Join us for worship, finding our “brave”, and hanging out with friends over snacks and games after! Invite any women – friends, roommates, classmates, workmates, family – who you think might like to come!
Here are the details:
- Friday, October 17th
- PC3 Wilmington Campus
- Check in at 6:30pm and event begins at 7:00pm
- Cost: $10
Register today at portcitychurch.org/radiant and we’ll see you next Friday!!
Thank you Port City Community Church. Because of your generosity with the finances God has entrusted to you, we have been able to donate $10,000 to Samaritan’s Purse for their ongoing relief efforts in the Middle East.
As most of you know, millions of Iraqis and Syrians have been displaced with little hope of returning home. They and many others in this area have been tragically affected by the recent horrible upsurge in terrorism. Persecution of believers is widespread. Yet, the Church there continues ministering to meet physical needs and continues sharing the Gospel.
Please take a minute to read this Samaritan’s Purse blog and watch the video that tells about their response - http://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/iraq-crisis-response/
Please pray for the people in the Middle East, and others being affected by war and violence around the world. Pray that – in these dire and seemingly hopeless situations – many will receive life and hope in Jesus Christ.
Again, thank you Port City Community Church for helping us be positioned to respond to those in need, in our community and around the world!
During Part 1 of the Denied series, I explored the concept of self-denial and Jesus’ call to pick up our cross and follow Him. One of the passages I highlighted was Luke 14:25-34, which includes some of the most difficult sayings of Jesus. Over the past few days, I’ve received a few emails from individuals stating their confusion and frustration over this passage. In order to provide clarity, I wanted to spend a few moments digging deeper into this passage.
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.
33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Jesus opens up this passage about self-denial by establishing the most unreasonable, objectionable condition possible for not being able to be counted His disciple – namely the hatred of the most important and intimate relationships humans enjoy.
If you are wondering why Jesus would want us to hate our families, or what any of this has to do with salt, I can understand. But take a deep breath.
The Scriptures clearly state that our parents are to be honored – it’s one of the Ten Commandments – and that our spouses and children are to be loved. In fact, Jesus summed up the entire law with the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
So it stands to reason that Jesus is not commanding us to hate our family – for that would go against his own teaching and character. Why then, would Jesus choose the word “hate” in this passage, and what does He mean?
Jesus used that word for a reason. He is not just making an arbitrary overstatement for dramatic effect. I believe this passage is designed to help us understand the priority of our relationship to Him, and how it affects every other endeavor in our lives.
Most scholars believe Jesus uses this word here to help us see how our families should be viewed in comparison to, or in light of our devotion to and love for God.
I suspect that Jesus is warning us, in a jolting way, not to simply use pragmatism to determine whether or not we will follow Christ. The call of discipleship is not a pragmatic decision based on how Jesus can make our lives or relationships work better. Nor is it a decision based on how good it makes us feel. These, by the way, are the standards by which we typically make decisions – and I believe it’s the issue Jesus is speaking to here.
Let’s look at the progression of the whole discourse. The passage is broken into 4 parts. I want us to connect those parts to each other, and to connect what Jesus is saying to us who wish to “come after him.”
The four parts of this passage are:
- If you don’t hate – don’t follow.
- If you can’t finish – don’t start.
- If you can’t win – don’t fight.
- The issue with unsalty salt.
So let’s walk through these and see if we can understand how they relate to the call to follow Jesus.
1) If You Don’t Hate – You Can’t Follow
The first thing Jesus says is if you don’t hate the most precious people to you, you cannot be His disciple. On the face of it, this is a strange and hard statement. Hating our moms, dads, siblings, and even ourselves, carries some very difficult imagery and, for some, very painful memories.
We are shocked by the statement as we wonder, how can we follow Jesus if this is what is required? Notice we are trying to evaluate the cost based on how we feel about what is being asked of us. So we must start with this question: With what standard am I going to evaluate what Jesus asks me to do?
This section is followed by two scenarios that address the very idea of evaluation. Jesus discusses counting the cost of building a tower and of going to war. His listeners would be very familiar with building a tower (the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11) and with fighting a lopsided battle (the Story of Gideon in Judges 7). So let’s identify what criteria Jesus is using to evaluate whether you should build or go to war.
2) If You Can’t Finish – Don’t Start
The first scenario offered is the builder wanting to build a tower. It’s a lengthy, costly undertaking to build a tower. If you can’t afford to finish it, then don’t start it. Otherwise, people will make fun of you for your half-built tower, poor planning, and lack of funds.
Makes sense, right?
But notice, Jesus begins this scenario with a question. He places his listeners in a hypothetical situation, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower,” and then He asks, “Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost …” It’s not a declarative teaching from Jesus on how to build a tower, it’s a revealing of how we typically approach things like tower building.
3) If You Can’t Win – Don’t Fight
The second scenario is the king who is going to war. If he assesses that his 10,000 men can’t defeat the 20,000 men of his enemy, he should send a delegation to negotiate terms of peace. Also makes sense, right?
The negotiation advice seems based not on valuing peace above war, but on actively pacifying the enemy because it doesn’t look like you can possibly win – and a loss will be costly and embarrassing. It might even cost you your life.
Again, the scenario begins with, “suppose a king is about to go to war, won’t he first …”
What do these scenarios Jesus sets up have in common? Each scenario emphasizes evaluating decisions according to criteria from a human perspective. The theme of these scenarios is defining and deciding based on what you could lose, or how you could feel.
Jesus points out we just do some simple math to decide whether or not we should build, or fight, or make peace. There is no consideration for faith or trust or dependence on God’s work. It is pure pragmatism. The illustrations of counting the cost of a building or sizing up a fight are based on what we can see from our perspective, without taking God into account.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust the Lord with all of your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding.”
We are warned not to trust in our own understanding of things. There is another perspective. That perspective is found in the context of our relationship with Christ. In fact, we cannot rightly understand any other thing – buildings, or wars, or loved ones – apart from this.
So if we resist God’s call to come to Him because we’re more committed to our love of our families, we will never understand what it means or how to truly love them.
If we only start what we can finish we will never walk by faith.
If we only fight what we can win, we’ll never see God fight for us.
We have to exchange our pragmatic, feelings-based way of seeing for another. Everything finds its meaning and purpose within the context of its relationship to God.
Jesus is not asking you to hate your mother any more than he is suggesting that you shouldn’t try something because you aren’t certain you will succeed. He is telling us that we have to release the things our hearts hold onto, and the wisdom that our minds cling to, in order to follow Him. Because those things will find their full meaning in the light of our relationship with Him.
4) The Issue with Unsalted Salt
The last part of this passage reveals the tragedy of not realizing everything (including us) finds its full meaning in light of our relationship with Jesus. He asks, “What if salt loses its saltiness?” That doesn’t sound too tragic at first glance. But the implications of salt losing the essence of what it means to be salt would mean it no longer functions as or has value for what it was created and intended to be.
So what about us? What if a human loses the essence of what it means to be human? They will never become what they were created and intended to be.
The essence of being human is found in Genesis – we are the creatures made to bear the image of God and be in relationship with Him. I’m sure most days you get up, maybe make some coffee, and try to get to work on time, feeling frustrated with the traffic, and you don’t feel much like the glory of the image of God. That’s because apart from a close relationship with Christ, we easily lose our essence and purpose.
The restoration of that is found in the path of discipleship.
So when we look into the parts of this passage with ears to hear, we discover that it is in following Jesus that we are empowered to love our spouses and honor our parents. We see that it is in following Jesus that we are able to do things that seem impossible. It is in following Jesus that we can lead with courage, in spite of the fear we might feel over losing what matters to us. Or, in spite of the fear we can feel when odds are stacked against us.
It’s in following Jesus that we learn to operate from His perspective and for His purposes, and not just our own.
With this passage Jesus is establishing the stakes of what it means to follow Him. You can’t hold onto anything so tightly or so fearfully that you lose your essence – or you will also lose everything you are trying to hold onto.
When we learn to walk with God by following Jesus, everything finds it meaning and context. Our hopes, our dreams, our endeavors, our disappointments, and every relationship we have.
When it comes to our mind, we all have default destinations about who we are and how shame defines and shapes our identity. Thanks to shame, these destinations are programmed into our brain. No matter how much self-effort we exert into covering our shame, we come back to these destinations over and over again.
Shame creeps in anytime there is a question mark about our worth. When shame makes an appearance, our mind gravitates towards these thoughts and questions. With little to no resistance, we drift towards believing these horrible lies. And these lies are unbelievably powerful.
This is why we must refuse to head down the destructive path where shame and guilt reside. We have to realize we can believe wrong things, especially when it comes to our shame.
Shame demands to be covered. However, what we cover it with will define who we are. If love doesn’t cover our sin, something else will. For many of us, we attempt to use will power to wish shame away. But, our self-effort is incapable of covering our shame.
It takes a deep love to reach deep shame. And the only love deep enough to eradicate sin from the picture is the sacrificial love of Christ. When you are covered by His love, you are able to bear His image and let go of the false images of yourself you’ve held on to for far too long.
- You are MADE to be LOVED!
- You are MADE to be KNOWN!
The collision of the deep desire to be loved & the deep desire to be known is:
If they really KNEW-
Would they still LOVE?
The more we are known the less we are loved.
- You are MADE to be LOVED!
- You are MADE to be KNOWN!
- You can believe WRONG things!
THE DRIVE OF SHAME
Shame drives you make right the things you know are not.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
- 1 John 1:8-9
THE DRIVE OF SHAME
Your Shame will always work to define You!
No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.
- Arthur Dimmesdale
Shame + Isolation = ID
In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
- Ephesians 2:7-10
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
- 1 Peter 4:8
Love covers a multitude of Sin.
If love doesn’t cover SIN- Something else will.